Hands-on with Brave: Shaman’s Challenge

Brave might sound familiar to some of you out there. The first game in this series came out on the PS2 awhile back and was a platformer similar to Tak. There are some new sequels in the works now and I’m here to talk about the upcoming DS version.

Unlike the console versions, Shaman’s Challenge is going to be a puzzle game similar to Puzzle Quest and Tetris Attack. I didn’t get to see much, but I did find it enjoyable. More on Brave after the jump.

In Shaman’s Challenge, you play as Brave, a Native American who has to stop an evil uprising and destroy the evil forces to save his homeworld. To do this, Brave must match up colored elemental spheres together. It’s always weird explaining a story when it revolves around puzzle pieces.

Anyway, you’ll have to hold the DS book style and you can only use the touch screen to control the elemental sphere pieces. Pieces will drop in twos, with both being random elemental spheres. To move the pieces, you slide them across the screen with your stylus. To drop them fast, you just drag them straight down (you’ll see where the pieces are expected to land, Tetris DS style). To switch the positions of the two orbs, you just tap the pieces and it will shift around.  

You have to match up at least four of the same color spheres to get a combo. You can match more than four pieces together in any formation except diagonally. So you can match them straight across, straight down, in the letter E or C letter formation, etc. 

There are only about four elements to start with, but the further you get in the game, the more elemental spheres are unlocked. Each elemental sphere will also have magic attacks associated with them. The magic aspect of the game wasn’t implemented yet, but expect things like “washing” all the pieces away with the water sphere magic, making all the pieces line up to the exact same height in each column, and so on. You can only use magic spells if you line up the pieces in a certain pattern. You can click the magic menu located right next to the puzzle field and it will show you what pattern you’ll have to make the spheres in order to activate their magic.

In every stage, you’ll be playing against some type of enemy with specific weaknesses and advantages based on the spheres. The first guy I fought was weak against lightning and fire spheres, but absorbed nature spheres. You have to make sure you’re only getting combos with the right spheres. In this case, so long as I kept getting lightning and fire sphere combos, my enemy would get hurt until his life meter was depleted. If I got the nature spheres though, he would get healed.

Every battle is timed too so you have to be mindful of the clock. Filling up the field will also make you lose, like every other Tetris style game out there. Solid blocks will fall into the field that will hinder your comboage. You can destroy the solid blocks, however, if you combo pieces next to a solid block.  

And that’s all I got to play. I definitely need to play some more of this before I can really say how I feel about it. Overall, I liked the idea, but I’m not too thrilled with the controls. It was really hard getting used to the controls. It seems to me like it would get really annoying over time to just use the stylus and touch screen all the time for this. Plus, puzzle games like this are just better suited with the D-pad and buttons.

The game will also have a regular arcade mode and have multiplayer through single card downloads. No word on a release date but there should be more news about Brave: Shaman’s Challenge by E3 time. 

Hamza Aziz